Irradiated Potatoes Discontinued in Hokkaido

By Hara Eiji, published in the October issue of CUJ’s monthly newsletter, Shouhisha Report

Every year in early spring, the Liaison Group Against Irradiated Foods has called on consumers across the country to find irradiated potatoes in supermarket shops, inform the supermarkets concerned of the problems with irradiated food and request that they stop selling them. Many supermarkets have responded to our request to stop selling them. This year, in 2023, information was sought, but the supermarkets that had sold them in previous years did not sell them. When we contacted the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative in Hokkaido, which produced irradiated potatoes, the answer was that the irradiation project had been stopped and the facilities were being dismantled. The reason given was that the facilities had become decrepit. It has been 50 years since the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative started the potato sprouting business, the only irradiation of food permitted under Japan’s Food Sanitation Law, but that has now come to an end.

They say the reason is that the facilities have become old, but if the irradiation project was going well, wouldn’t they have renewed the facilities and built more splendid ones? In recent years, irradiated potato production has continued to decline, to one tenth of its original volume. This is proof of the lack of social acceptance. This can be said to be the result of our opposition movement, which has been appealing to society about the problems of food irradiation.
However, we must not be too optimistic. Radiation sterilisation of raw liver is being studied. Radiation sterilisation of spices is also pending and has not been withdrawn. Irradiated food from abroad, which is not permitted in Japan, continues to be imported and violated.

The liaison group held a lecture on food irradiation in September, reviewed 50 years of campaigning and shared information on future issues. We will hold another meeting on 31 October. We hope that many of you will join us and let’s put an end to food irradiation with the voice of consumers!